(but if she does leave, she must remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband should not divorce his wife.1 Corinthians 7:11(NASB)
Having spent a good few chapters addressing disorders, dissensions and immorality within the Corinthian church community, together with lawsuits among believers and moral impropriety amongst Christians, Paul continues his epistle by outlining the godly and doctrinal elements that should be the distinguishing marks of a fellowship of believers.. who are living in spirit and in truth.
In this middle section of the epistle we see Paul addressing issues ranging from the eating of meat that has been offered to idols and head-covering for women - to the Lord's supper and the appropriate use of the gifts of the Holy Spirit within the church.
But the first issue that Paul touched on was that of marriage and celibacy within the Christian church. He recognised that all of us can be tempted sexually and gave wise advice regarding fidelity within the marriage bed and the intimate affection that should be reflected in the outward manifestation of a marriage.. as well as the inner soul of their union.
He gave wise advice to young single men and maidens regarding their attitude towards relationships and marriage and then turned his attention to those that are already married.. by giving clear direction from the Lord on how to deal with difficulties, divorce and other distresses that may arise. Paul started by advising that a wife should she not leave her husband.. but went on to clarify that if she did decide to leave, she must remain unmarried.. or else be reconciled to her husband. Finally he instructed: the husband should not divorce his wife, except for adultery.
The important issue to understand is that Paul is pointing out that separation and even divorce does not actually sever the marriage bond and whenever possible it is preferable to seek reconciliation, as unto the Lord. The union between Christ and the Church is the comparison that is often used to describe the bond between a husband and his wife. The marriage union is an important one... for we know that nothing can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord, and Christian marriage should be a mirror-image of our intimate union with Christ.
It is important to note that these instructions on developing a godly marriage are given to two believers who are married to each other. However, Paul gives additional advice to the saved wife who is living with an unsaved husband or the born-again husband who is living with his unsaved wife. We see godly principles and practice permeating all Paul's instructions on how to live a Christian life that is honouring to the Lord, including marriage, is what Paul is emphasising in his instructions.
Roles and responsibilities for men and women alike, within and outside of a marriage relationship should be pure and godly. Immorality is to be judged and godliness is to be pursued, without inflicting any legalistic demands or promoting any liberal laxity.. that could bring the grace of God into disrepute.
May we pay heed to all godly instruction about our individual lives, our marriages and any other godly relationships we may have with other believers - and may we diligently implement all that we are taught in the word of God.. into our everyday relationship with others.
Heavenly Father, thank You for Your Word and the wise counsel that it gives in connection with our relationship with one another and in particular our marriage partnerships. I pray that the way that I conduct my life, may be a true reflection of You and I pray that I may seek to implement the godly instructions that are found in the Word of God to Your honour and glory, this I ask in Jesus name, AMEN